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The Marlowe Papers

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    • ROS BARBER’S remarkable book about Christopher Marlowe is many things. It is a historic novel, an interesting if contentious theory and a mystery.

      It is also a collection of poems, many of which, when dipped into, stand up perfectly well by themselves, quite independently of the story which they tell. The entire book is written in blank verse; non-rhyming iambic pentameter.

    • Marlowe, her subject, is a poet and playwright who is possessed of a doomed rock star glamour straight from Central Casting. He is an elizabethan Jim Morrison of sorts.
    • The tantalising thing about Christopher Marlowe is that there is enough evidence to suggest that he might have been a contender for the authorship of Shakespeare’s work yet not quite enough to confirm that he definitely was. Whether, however, the Bard did or did not write those works credited to him has been debated inconclusively.
    • Not least in the book, however, is Ros Barber’s poetry. In Burying The Moor she writes: An April night. A distant bell tolled ten. The cobbles glittered recent rain; the elms fringing the church shook drips from newborn leaves.Chilled moonlight traced a figure at the gate that turned out to be you.

      This is effortlessly better stuff than many far more trumpeted poets can produce, even on a good day.

    • For me, The Marlowe Papers is the best read, so far, this year.

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Shakespeare Festival workshops set

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    • This weekend’s events for the eighth annual Redlands Shakespeare Festival will include a historical workshop presentation by Bonner Cutting, a member of the board of trustees of the Shakespeare Fellowship and the board of directors of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition.

      Cutting will present “Let the Punishment Fit the Crime” at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 19, in the A.K. Smiley Public Library Assembly Room, 125 W. Vine St., Redlands.

      The presentation will explore the fate of writers who pushed the political envelope and challenged Elizabethan censorship during the reign of the queen of Shakespearean times.

      “It is incredible to learn about the terrible fates that were suffered by those who challenged the queen and her council with their ‘subversive’ writings,” said Steven Sabel, founding artistic director of the festival.

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Shakespeare’s identity crisis

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    • Mark Rylance, whom critics call the greatest Shakespeare actor of his generation, believes that Shakespeare is not one man, but a group of authors who wrote under his name.
      Rylance is part of a very distinguished and growing group of theatre actors, writers and directors who are convinced that Shakespeare could not have been one author. The question of Shakespeare authorship is an old controversy — there are several books on the subject — but what has given the authorship question renewed energy, focus and vitality is that Shakespeare’s most brilliant interpreter today has come to believe that it is foolish to think Shakespeare could be just one lone genius. Along with theatre legends like Derek Jacobi, he is part of a group that holds the view that Shakespeare was probably made of several writers, including the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere, Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe and Mary Sidney.

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Shakespeare, Italy and the theatre | The Shakespeare blog

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    • I didn’t realise I was going to be missing was the first of Francesco da Mosto’s two-part series on Shakespeare in Italy. His interest in Shakespeare is genuine:Among Italians, Shakespeare is certainly the best-known foreign writer. It’s interesting for us to see how he describes Mark Antony, and how his Octavius resembles Machiavelli’s Prince. But the most important this is the way he described emotions that are universal. It hits you like a punch in the stomach.

    • … he talked about Shakespeare and the universal emotion of love, but the one going out this Thursday looks at the political landscape, visiting Venice’s Jewish ghetto, Rome and Sicily which the Radio Times confidently assures us was the setting for The Tempest. Really?
    • In The Merchant of Venice, Launcelot Gobbo gives deliberately confusing directions: “Turn up on your right hand at the next turning, but at the very next turning of all, on your left…turn of no hand but turn down indirectly”. This, the programme suggests, is recognisable as Venice with its maze of alleyways, as if Venice was the only city with a complicated layout.
    • On returning to Stratford I wandered into the Royal Shakespeare Theatre to find a little pamphlet discussing Shakespeare’s life, entitled Alas Poor Yorick, or What if Shakespeare fell off the wall?, written by Peter Brook.
      I was quite surprised to see Peter Brook joining the fray surrounding the authorship question, but as the most important figure in theatre in the second half of the twentieth century, nobody is better qualified than he to point out the impossibility of an imposter being able to pass himself off as the author of the plays:
      Who was this man, acting, rubbing shoulders in rehearsal, sitting for hours talking to all and sundry in the taverns without anyone suspecting he was a fake! An actor says to an author – “Can’t you change that line?” or “I haven’t enough time for the costume change — could you write a soliloquy or a little scene on the forestage to help?”No one smelt a rat amongst all those spiteful and jealous rivals? I’m sorry academics – if you’d been part of any rehearsal process you would think differently. Even today, imagine a phoney writer. The cast would begin to notice and gossip about the fact that every time you ask something, the author slips into the wings with his cell phone.

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Festival celebrates Shakespeare as part of London 2012

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    • Half of the school children across the globe are taught Shakespeare, according to a recent British Council research. His plays are translated and staged in over 80 languages, and countless movie adaptations continue to inspire people around the world.

      The World Shakespeare Festival, celebrating the Bard and his work, will be part of the London 2012 Festival, a global extravaganza tying in with the upcoming Summer Olympics in London, celebrating culture through film, theatre, music, fashion, visual arts and more. The festival kicked off last month, coinciding with both Shakespeare’s birthday and his death anniversary.The Festival, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and brought together with 60 major UK and international arts organisations, will be the biggest celebration of Shakespeare. Running until November, over one million tickets are on sale for almost 70 productions, supporting events and exhibitions around the UK in London, Shakespeare’s hometown Stratford-upon-Avon, Newcastle/Gateshead, Birmingham, Wales and Scotland, as well as online events.

    • The Festival will also provide a chance for amateur theatre across the UK, with 260 groups taking part in Open Stages, working with the Royal Shakespeare Company and nine partner theatres around the UK, to share skills and expertise to stage their own Shakespeare-inspired productions. Open Stages will culminate in a national celebration of amateur theatre in July in Stratford-upon-Avon.
    • You don’t have to be in the UK to be part of the Festival. The digital platform, My Shakespeare, will create a global digital conversation, creating a view of Shakespeare through a twenty-first century lens. The site will include guest bloggers, a unique online search of Shakespeare’s plays, a chance to create your own visualisation and new artists’ commissions released onto the site

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Politics and Poetry – by Stephen Marche – Tablet Magazine

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  • I recently published a book about Shakespeare’s impact on the material world….but Shakespeare’s influence on politics was the hardest part of the book to write. What were Shakespeare’s politics?
  • Shakespeare serves many political masters but none of them faithfully, and ambivalence about the relationship between power and art riddle his plays. After Marc Anthony’s stirring funeral oration in Julius Caesar, the enraged crowd stumbles on Cinna the poet, whom they confuse with one of the conspirators, also named Cinna.
  • The crowd doesn’t just kill Cinna. They rip him apart. Which is remarkable for two reasons. Ripping a poet apart is not only exceedingly violent but also nearly impossible to stage. Not only is the crowd mad in its rampaging violence; it is consciously mad, aware that it is slaughtering an innocent for no good reason.
  • In Julius Caesar, art is a casualty of power, but in Hamlet, it’s the opposite: Art redeems history. The play-within-the-play is how the prince figures out whether to kill his uncle. A work of theater proves the justness of the assassination: “The play’s the thing/ Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.”
  • So, Shakespeare gives us a double vision. Power rips art to pieces. And art reveals the hidden crimes of the powerful.
  • If, as George Orwell claimed, the future is a boot stamping on a human face over and over, Shakespeare has put human faces on display over and over in response. He insists above all on the fascination of his characters, on their indestructible personhood.

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Coriolanus (2012) review by That Film Dude | That Film Guy

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    • Coriolanus demonstrates brilliantly how well Shakespeare can be adapted to a modern context, with the setting allowing for sharp commentary on the political situation in the Balkans. As the innumerable modern revisions of Shakespeare have shown, it is astonishing how universal the themes the Bard tackled are, and Coriolanus is no exception: the turbulent politics and the conflict between the aristocracy and commoners of Republican Rome translate extremely well to the modern setting, and there are more than a few echoes of the Occupy movement in the plebeians’ criticisms of the patricians.

    • The play, one of Shakespeare’s longest, has been edited down considerably to fit into a two hour run time, but the resulting increase in pace fits the modern setting very well. While I do wish it had been longer so the characters and their motivations could have been explored more, there’s never a feeling that material has been left on the cutting room floor. Coriolanus is an extremely refreshing film; not a stately Roman play, but a raw, fierce, exhilarating take on one of the Bard’s least known works.

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